Click for the latest Bonners Ferry weather forecast.
Print Version

Home   News   Sports   Social   Obituaries   Events   Letters

Lauding ruling on roadless issue

February2, 2013
By Raul Labrador
U.S. House of Representatives

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Idaho rule that gives more flexibility to the public seeking to cultivate untapped natural resources on federal lands.

Under the leadership of then-Governor Jim Risch, Idaho’s Roadless Rule was approved in 2006. His process brought together county commissioners, tribes, timber companies, hunters and environmental and recreational groups in unprecedented collaboration.

Thanks to the court’s decision, essential activities like road access and harnessing multiple uses on public lands can continue.

The area covered by the Roadless Rule is vast.

In 2006, then-Governor Risch petitioned the U.S. Forest Service to specify the 9.3 million acres of inventoried roadless areas within Idaho.

I commend his unprecedented efforts to implement local involvement in public lands management. The recent court ruling is a victory for our great state, allowing it to cultivate the land and strengthen our economy while preserving our national forests for future generations.

The freedom to develop these lands is consistent with my position of encouraging economic growth. You may remember that in March of 2012, the House of Representatives passed my bill, the Exploring for Geothermal Energy on Federal Lands Act (H.R. 2171). This bill, approved on a bipartisan basis, removed excessive regulatory burdens imposed by the federal government with regard to the production of energy on federal lands. It encouraged energy companies to invest in projects that would increase Idaho’s access to geothermal energy while at the same time protecting the environment.

In June of 2012 the Grazing Improvement Act of 2012 (H.R. 4234) was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. This bill, which I introduced also had bipartisan support. It was designed to give certainty to ranchers’ who need access to grazing permits for their livestock. As a result, ranchers would be able to make long term economic plans and be better able to guide the transition of their livestock from the fields to the meat market and further strengthen our economy—all because of their access to public lands.

Finally, in June 2012 I introduced the Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act of 2012 (H.R. 6009) which would allow the governor of a state to appoint local boards of trustees to assume management of selected federal forest acreage. Local management of these lands unshackles many industries, such as timber, so they may use the land to create jobs and economic growth. Good jobs would follow and counties would be able to generate their own revenue without the need to accept millions of taxpayer dollars. The local economies would be bolstered and the federal government would save money. This legislation is both sensible and consistent with sound, financial principles.

For far too long the federal government has hindered the ability of states like Idaho to grow their own economies. The encroachment of regulatory agencies on Idaho’s sovereignty has brought well-meaning producers to their knees, forcing them to scramble for survival. This is why the freedom provided for in the Idaho Roadless Rule must be preserved. I am pleased that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this rule. Idaho’s industries must be given the freedom they need to operate on lands with resources that hold great promise for strengthening Idaho’s economy.
Questions or comments about this letter? Click here to e-mail!